Every child, at least once in their life, has been admonished to not stare at the sun for so long lest they go blind. But does looking at the sun really cause blindness, or is that just an old wives’ tale? Turns out, it’s a bit of both. The retina most certainly can be damaged by staring straight at the sun, but it would take several minutes of uninterrupted focus for that to happen.
In order to cause permanent injury to the eye, the retina would need to heat up by 50 degrees Fahrenheit. And at the brightest point of the day, when sun-induced eye damage is most likely, the average person can only look at the sun long enough to experience a 39-degree Fahrenheit increase in corneal temperature. After that, our natural defenses take over and our sensitive eyes begin to water and burn, which typically causes us to blink and look away before long-term harm can be done.
Fortunately, there are better and easier ways to get a good look at the sun. We can, for example, peruse NASA’s online gallery of sun photos. Over the last 100 years alone, the agency has taken thousands of photographs of the star. In the following slides, Stacker has rounded up 10 incredible photos of the sun from space taken by the agency. These images are a much clearer and safer way of getting a good look at the glowing ball of gas at the center of our solar system.
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